the adham shaikh show
onbeyond has been doing design for adham shaikh since 2003. starting with the interchill re:release of adham’s groundbreaking “journey to the sun”, the design relationship between onbeyond and adham has been symbiotically strong. journey to the sun is an ambient masterpiece which captured my imagination long before i was a graphic designer. to me the music sounded like the expression of living plantlife photosynthesizing in direct sunlight. i was deeply honoured when adham, at that time pretty much a musical hero, approached me to do what would essentially be my first professional cd design contract. i was a bit intimidated, as adham usually worked with jean marc, a designer then living in toronto, who was perhaps my biggest inspiration to become a graphic designer and produced design so next level that i felt i couldn’t approach that type of skill. adham just wasn’t having that, and the result was this.
adham’s next album, “collectivity”, was an example of divine inspiration in design, in which adham’s very loose idea for the content, seemed to translate directly to print. collectivity was a more raucous sort of album, with plenty of middle eastern samples, reminding me of deserts, magic carpets and exotic bellydancers. adham basically said about this much to me when he expressed what he was looking for. when i produced the first draft and sent it off, adham called me back right away, amazed, saying that i had pretty much nailed it and that we only really had to do some minor edits on text etc.
it’s always a huge relief when the client accepts the first draft. it’s like the only way we really get to feel like our art is seen and appreciated for what it is. usually by the time a client is done directing the editing the design is unlike the original inspiration. with adham, this has never been the case and i am grateful.
by this time the connection between us was particularly strong. when adham teamed up with uwe and formed the dreamtree project, they were looking for design which reflected the organic elements of their music but also had a futuristic feel which correlates to the electronic beats that adham creates. we went to st.even, a vancouver artist and photographer to get the base image and then we created the album contents from that.
dreamtree was a surprising hit amongst the community. despite having roots in deeply classical indian music and being a moderately cumbersome hybrid, uwe and adham blew audiences away with this music. diversity 2005 had them playing to a packed primetime dancefloor, absolutely melting everyone’s minds. the design for this album, while being a bit trickier to navigate, also broke ground in my own practice as i was experimenting more deeply with layers and overlays, using different modes to achieve the mix of wild lush organic plant life, and diagnostic blueprints of things like sitars and circuit patterns.
adham took a small hiatus from album recording for while and focused on doing live shows, hybrid performances and music for movie soundtracks, which became an ambient album he released just this year. resonance is an oddly surprising masterpiece. while being cobbled together from music from at least 5 separate films, it maintains a a cohesion which makes it perfect for meditation, yogic practice or simply just allowing yourself to mellow out and chill to.
with either minimal beats, or straight up ambient textural flows, this album represents the more compositional and contemplative nature of adham’s music and shows his versatility as a producer of not only dancefloor music, but soundtrack production, which involves complexity of timings and a synching to the imagery on the screen. from my perspective this album is one of adham’s most accessible ones to the most widely varying audience. the kind to give to your most hardcore electronica connoisseurs, or your parents.
Adham’s current project is called universal frequencies, and is probably the most uptempo full on floor filling album he has yet produced. it has all the signature styles of classic adham shaikh, including amazing sampling from many world artists, immaculate production and an amazingly modular live set design. onbeyond had been doing visuals for adham for a few years, casually, but this album we decided to take it to a new level, creating a bunch of custom content and a customized mashup mixed clips which reflect the themes and styles of the music.
the cd design is based on the movement of the sonicturtle, adham’s label name and also the name of his mobile recording studio bus, and the idea that music is comprised of universal frequencies which affect and connect us all. this album marks the unveiling of a whole new direction in adham’s music career, which involves a deeply integrated and connected design strategy, an ever increasingly technical live show, and a tour schedule like that of a rockstar, with gigs every weekend for months.